Candle lights flickered against the strong blow of the wind as a group of UC Berkeley students and Bay Area natives formed a circle on Upper Sproul in silent remembrance. The candlelight vigil, which was organized by the UC Berkeley Afghan Student Association, was one of many held worldwide in commemoration of the early Sunday morning shootings by a US soldier in Kandahar, Afghanistan that resulted in the death of 16 Afghans. The vigil, commemorated by about 70 people, began at 7:15 p.m. and ended by 7:26 p.m., with some remaining to pray for the victims’ families.
According to Saylai Mohammadi, campus senior and member of the association, the vigil was organized “really last minute” and was the result of a quick board meeting. “(It’s) short and to the point,” Mohammadi said of the event. “We want everyone to know why we’re here.” The purpose is to commemorate the lives that were lost Sunday, as well as the lives of everyone who has been killed as a result of the decade-long war, she said.
Association Vice President Tuba Nemati said this recent development is not a lone incident but indicative of hundreds of similar incidents. “The US has been at war with Afghanistan since 2001,” she said. “Nobody really knows what’s going on there. People are dying — it’s not evil people dying. Innocent people are dying.”
Vigils were also held in Oakland, Davis, London and Chicago, Nemati said.
Mustafah Treal, a Bay Area resident, said he went to areas of Afghanistan in 2010 and experienced the presence of military personnel firsthand. “US military occupation is having a deadly effect (on Afghanistan),” Treal said. “The US media is not giving this enough coverage.”
But intertwined with the political sentiments of US involvement was the feeling of sadness perpetuated by the recent deaths. “I want to remind everyone why we’re gathered here — this is a vigil,” Mohammadi said to the crowd. “We hold candles and shed tears in remembrance of the beautiful souls whose lives were robbed from them.”